Today we have a guest post from our RMT here at BIM, Lawrence Lam.
Lawrence has been a registered massage therapist for over 7 years now. He has a wide range experience including being an assistant trainer with the Vancouver Canadians Baseball team and as a sports massage therapist for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canadian Women’s Rugby Sevens team. In addition, he has extensive experience treating occupational injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and other causes of pain and dysfunction from everyday life.
Today he brings you a post on how massage therapy can help address some of the common problems that arise with running.
Massage Therapy and Common Running Injuries
By Lawrence Lam, RMT
Running is a popular pastime of fitness enthusiasts in Vancouver during the summer months. Runners, eager to take advantage of the warmer weather, will spend many hours on running tracks and outdoor trails in order to reach their fitness goals. However, some of these runners will fall victim to common running injuries, potentially causing long term damage. Fortunately, massage therapy is a solution for many of these injuries.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thick fibrous band of tissue that runs from the muscles of the hip down the leg to the outside of the knee.
It’s role is to stabilize the legs during activities that require bending of the knee with weight bearing.
However, repetitive movements like running can irritate the ITB, leading to ITB syndrome. Pain is felt during activity at the outside of the thigh near the knee, especially with weight-bearing.
Because the ITB is composed mostly of fascial tissue, treatments involving myofascial techniques are very effective. However, treatment can be painful, and experienced runners who foam-roll their ITB can attest to this. While normally not a debilitating injury, ITB syndrome can be a nuisance and should be treated immediately before it progresses to a more serious injury like osteoarthritis.
You can read more about the IT Band in our article by clicking HERE
The achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the body, running from your calf muscles down to your heel, and provides a lot of the elastic energy used in running.
The most common cause of tendinitis at the achilles is overtraining without adequate rest. The dysfunction will be felt as pain at the achilles tendon during and after runs. Tight calf muscles and running on hard surfaces also contribute to the dysfunction.
The achilles tendon does not receive much blood supply, so it heals slowly once injured. Achilles tendinitis can be prevented with proper stretching and adequate rest. However, if it becomes a chronic issue, massage therapy can loosen the calf muscles and release any adhesions in the deeper muscles that may be restricting mobility. If left untreated, achilles tendinitis can lead to calf strains and plantar fasciitis.
Runner’s knee is also known as patellar-femoral syndrome, which occurs when the kneecap tracks improperly in the knee joint. The injury is caused by a muscle imbalance in the lower body and is felt as pain under and around the kneecap. Runner’s knee can be caused by tight quadricep muscles, weak and inactive glutes, and muscle imbalance in the quadriceps.
Although the pain from runner’s knee is felt around the kneecap, the actual dysfunction is typically around the lateral hip and thigh. Typical treatment for runner’s knee involves re-balancing the muscles of the lower body: releasing tight muscles at the thigh and reactivating stabilizing muscles that are weak.
They are continuous with the achilles tendon, and connect the intrinsic muscles of the feet. Irritation can occur when the plantar fascia is irritated or overloaded during running, and is felt as sharp pain at the soles of the feet during weight bearing. Main causes of plantar fasciitis are improper running technique, poorly-fitting shoes, and inadequate rest.
Depending on the stage of the injury, plantar fasciitis can be treated conservatively or aggressively. When the injury is minor, plantar fasciitis can be conservatively treated with ice, stretching, and adequate rest. Once the problem progresses to a chronic stage though, it becomes more difficult to treat. Scar tissue and adhesions may form around the site of irritation, which requires deep tissue massage and myofascial release to break up.
Our general suggestion here at BIM is DON’T wait until you can barely run because of pain before you start addressing your imbalances. HERE is another article we wrote on how runners can avoid training injuries.